Peek­a­boo!

Focus-Science and Technology - - Contents -

PADRE BUR­GOS, PHILIP­PINES

Watch your step… this stargazer fish is wait­ing for a meal. So-called be­cause of the eyes on the tops of their heads, stargaz­ers use their fins as shov­els to bur­row them­selves into the sand, leap­ing out to am­bush any prey that passes over­head.

“I spot­ted the fish dur­ing a night dive when my torch­light caught its eyes,” says pho­tog­ra­pher Reinart van Meteren. “It was about 30cm long, prob­a­bly wait­ing to am­bush one of the smaller fish close by. I gen­tly moved the wa­ter on top of it in or­der to un­cover its face, and then I had a few sec­onds to take the shot be­fore it buried it­self back into the sand.”

Stargaz­ers use their large, up­ward-fac­ing mouths to cre­ate a vac­uum, suck­ing in their un­sus­pect­ing prey. Some species can also cre­ate elec­tric shocks of up to 50V, thanks to a spe­cialised or­gan lo­cated be­hind their eyes – handy for ward­ing off po­ten­tial preda­tors or con­fus­ing a po­ten­tial snack.

PHOTO: REINART VAN METEREN

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